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Improve your collaboration capabilities by using Cisco’s Spark Board

Cisco released the Spark Board. It is a collaboration room device for your collaboration spaces or legacy video conferencing rooms. It transforms your Cisco video sessions to collaboration sessions based on the Cisco Spark platform.

  • Use Case: Connect virtual teams and enable them for modern collaboration
  • Goal: Consistency, simplicity, and reliability of experience across the Cisco Spark endpoints
  • Key capabilities: Meeting, calling, messaging, white boarding, sharing
  • Security: End-to-end encryption of the collaboration session
  • Devices: mobile devices, laptops, smartphones, tablets with the Cisco Spark app
  • Type of offer: Cloud Service Subscription model based on Cisco Spark

For more details and an intro video of the Spark Board take a look on Cisco’s website >>here<< and the data sheet of the Spark Board specs >>here<<.So if you are already using a Cisco Video Infrastructure, considering to go for cloud offers to enable you for a more flexible, agile, service-oriented and operation expenditures (opex) approach you could consider to built a hybrid cloud model to combine the best of two worlds: the Cisco video conferencing solution on premise/hosted and Cisco Spark.

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What’s new in Cisco Expressway 8.9?

Cisco’s new version of Expressway brings some new features which especially support your video infrastructure in regards of interoperability based on former Acano Edge features.

  • Edge Traversal of Microsoft SIP Traffic for Cisco Meeting Server Supported
  • Meeting Server Web Proxy NOT yet SUPPORTED
  • IM and Presence Service Federation With Skype for Business or Office 365 Organizations Preview
  • Cisco Expressway as H.323 Gatekeeper Supported
  • REST API Expansion Supported
  • Allow Jabber for iPhone and iPad to Use Safari for SSO Over MRA Supported
  • Shared Line / Multiple Line Support for MRA Endpoints Preview
  • Smart Call Home Preview
  • Secure Install Wizard Supported
  • DiffServ Code Point Marking Supported
  • Maintenance Mode For MRA Supported
  • X8.9 Changes and Enhancements Supported

The Cisco Expressway 8.9 release notes are here: http://www.cisco.com/c/dam/en/us/td/docs/voice_ip_comm/expressway/release_note/Cisco-Expressway-Release-Note-X8-9.pdf and the Expressway 8.9 admin guide is there: http://www.cisco.com/c/dam/en/us/td/docs/voice_ip_comm/expressway/admin_guide/Cisco-Expressway-Administrator-Guide-X8-9.pdf.

Cisco’s new video architecture design based on CMS 2.0

Recently Cisco made some changes for its video backend. The major changes are based on the acquisition of Acano which makes Cisco merging the technology portfolios together. For you as a customer, video backend operator or service user it brings you a more and more collaborative video solution. By the technology product merger old paths of pure video collaboration are left behind and abandoned. Yey!!!! 🙂 Still, you can have your high end video conferencing capabilities but new features and interoperability is added. Why not using them?

Typical Cisco Video Architecture Components

vc_todaystypicalciscovideoinfrastructure2016

  • Internal components for your intranet environment
    • Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) for registering video endpoints and systems plus add audio call capabilities e.g. for (phone) dial-in users
    • Telepresence Server (TPS) / Multi-point control unit (MCU) for video processing
    • Telepresence Conductor for TPS/MCU resource / port allocation (checking if sufficient video capacities are available at a time…)
    • Telepresence Management Suite (TMS) for managing systems
    • Telepresence Management Suite Extension for Exchange (TMSXE) for scheduling telepresence / video resources via Outlook (e.g. for booking a room which includes a video system registered to CUCM…)
    • Video ISDN gateway*
  • External components for your external connectivity (e.g. for B2B video calls, ISDN/H.323, …)
    • Expressway-Core (LAN)
    • Expressway-Edge (DMZ) for firewall traversal

Typical/classical Cisco Video Architecture Deployment Components: 7

Cisco Meeting Server (CMS) 2.0 (formerly known as Acano) Architecture Components

vc_newciscovideoinfrastructure2016

  • Internal components for your intranet environment
    • Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) for registering video endpoints and systems plus add audio call capabilities e.g. for (phone) dial-in users
    • Cisco Meeting Server 2.0 (CMS 2.0) for video processing and bridging (for interop to Skype for Business, Polycom, LifeSize, … sip-capable video endpoints)
    • Telepresence Management Suite (TMS) for managing systems
    • Telepresence Management Suite Extension for Exchange (TMSXE) for scheduling  via Outlook (e.g. for booking a room which includes a video system registered to CUCM…)
    • Video ISDN Gateway*
  • External components for your external connectivity (e.g. for B2B video calls, ISDN/H.323, …)
    • Expressway-Core (LAN)
    • Expressway-Edge (DMZ) for firewall traversal

Cisco Meeting Server 2.0 Video Architecture Deployment Components: 7

* I would not recommend using (legacy) ISDN for video anymore. Go for sip-uri dialing and sip instead of ISDN… Try to get rid of ISDN quickly and train users to utilize sip-uri dialing. Or better, provide OBTP (one button to push). I.e. provide address book services via TMS/TMSXE which enable users to schedule meetings and rooms via their Outlook calendar to go into a room an just press one button to join a video conference (OBTP, one button to push feature). This is a much more convenient and pleasant user experience, isn’t it?

Features and Capabilities

Erm… just 1 component less? Kidding? Well, no, but CMS 2.0 provides massive interoperability for video collaboration. By leveraging your CMS 2.0 video architecture you have tremendous interop advantages compared to an typical and pure Cisco Video Conferencing infrastructure. You can make almost every video endpoint join a video conference!!! It does not really matter if this is a Skype for Business user/endpoint (pc, tablet, mobile, web browser), a Polycom video endpoint, a  LifeSize video endpoint or any other sip-capable video endpoint. That’s really great folks! But wait before you run to upgrade or deploy you should analyse your enterprise business and collaboration stakeholder requirements first.

  • CMS 2.0 is a video bridge bringing together different video endpoints and systems
  • CMS 2.0 is a more dynamic approach where video resources are used dynamically instead of a more static resource allocation by the Telepresence Conductor, e.g. if you have 30 video room sessions in full HD (shared multiparty) and further video sessions are about to start the video resolution is scaled down to still provide video to all video conferences…
    … too avoid something like this the Acano Manager (still Acano) could provide you reporting on your video utilization so that you can add licenses/capacity as needed.
  • CMS 2.0 is collaborative you can have also interactive session sharing desktop screens etc.
  • CMS 2.0 is highly scale-able and distributable, i.e. you can distribute cluster nodes geographically as needed and can also control video call flows/breakouts/…
  • CMS 2.0 can be made highly available

Cisco Video Architecture Design Guides and further resources

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